New Member Spotlight: The Old School Farm to Table

Located just ten minutes from the heart of Nashville, The Old School Farm to Table is much more than a restaurant — it’s a hub for the community, a gathering place, and an opportunity for many.

Susan Richardson and Rowan Millar started their company, MillarRich, in 2008, which provides residential, day, nursing and employment supports for adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities. In need of additional office space, they stumbled upon the historic Wade Elementary School building in Bells Bend.

Millar, who is from Northern Ireland, has a background in farming, agriculture and sustainable jobs, so the pair sought a space that would provide them with a permanent plot of land to begin a farm.

Opened in 1936, the school had been abandoned in the late 90s and was dubbed one of the  ‘Nashville Nine’ endangered historic structures in 2012. Millar spearheaded the renovations and returned the old school to its former charm.

“We started a nonprofit called The Old School Farm, which provides meaningful jobs for adults of all abilities and gives everyone the opportunity to work side by side together,” says Richardson. “Our goal is to produce sustainable jobs for people and we begin our teaching based on where people are currently functioning.  The Old School Farm has also expanded the mission to include teaching farming components to school groups and volunteer groups in the greater Nashville area.”

Initially using the farm’s produce strictly to provide a CSA for the community, a surplus led Millar to the idea of creating a restaurant.

The Old School Farm to Table opened its doors in October of 2015, and everything has functioned in what Richardson describes as a “symbiotic relationship” ever since. The produce is grown out back on the farm and served straight to the table. The restaurant also functions as a resource to provide vocational training to adults with disabilities.

“Community plays a huge role in everything we do here,” says Millar. “We utilize several small farms in the neighborhood to supplement our own farm and our menu. We even have a locals social every Thursday night where diners have the opportunity to meet our farmers and shake the hand that feeds them.”

Everything at the restaurant is made from scratch, including pastries and breads.

“Our menu is completely based upon seasonality and availability,” says Executive Chef Kirstie Bidwell. “I’m really lucky to not only have creative freedom here, but to also have direct relationships with all of our local farmers.”

In addition to the incredibly fresh menu, the restaurant’s atmosphere enhances what is sure to be a memorable culinary experience. The dining areas are uniquely decorated and welcoming, each with its own style –one is open, airy and simple with views of the herb garden and field, while the other has more of a vintage, speakeasy feel and a stage.

There is also an event barn on the property used for weddings, square dances and other events, as well as yoga every Wednesday. Bands provide music for diners on Friday and Saturday nights and during Bluegrass Brunch every Sunday.

Most recently, the restaurant launched the first cider bar in Nashville, which features eight different ciders on tap.

The Old School Farm to Table is located at 5022 Old Hydes Ferry Pike and is open Wednesday through Friday from 3pm to 11pm, 10:30am to 11pm on Saturday, and 10:30am to 3pm on Sunday.